I thank God every year — especially around Christmas — that Donna is an amazing gift-giver. She has an uncanny flair for discerning extra special ideas for our children, grandchildren and assorted others. Credit her ability to attune her senses throughout the year to something people request or might ideally suit their fancy.
That uncommon attention, and sometimes surpassing intuition, is one of her gifts — straight from the Father. Pure love.
In His wisdom, God gave her something that has value only in her ability to open her heart and mind to receive, then pass it along to others.
That doesn’t always have to make a great dent in our checking account, either. This year made for a sweet and touching example.
My mom had a beautiful duvet on her bed many years ago. The pattern included bright red cardinals on tree branches. My parents always loved watching the cardinals eat in the patio feeders; she also was a great Cardinals fan, so it reflected a couple of their affections.
Mom passed away in May 2015. We’ve missed her joyful and faithful spirit — she loved Christmas especially — but also her meals; she really could cook. Mom passed those gifts of joy and cooking to many of us.
With all of that in mind, Donna found a seamstress who was able to turn that duvet into more than a dozen aprons for family members. Gifts both beautiful and functional.
Plus, special mementos of great love from a variety of angles.
Those are the types of gifts I think we’d all like to present to loved ones, whether it’s for Christmas or a birthday or just because.
The gift-giving aspect of this time of year overwhelms me. Donna’s birthday is in early December, then Christmas, and our wedding anniversary arrives in mid-January. Ideas for so many gifts for her all at once don’t come easily. I manage to limp through; she makes a fuss even when my best isn’t unique or mind-blowing.
That’s how I think my gifts should register. I’m learning, through her and some other people, to let God inspire my gift-giving, to allow them to flow through me more naturally.
Hence, in considering what gift to offer you, reader, in this wonderful season, I was moved by one of my favorite saints.
I’ve written often about my affection for St. John of the Cross. The Spanish Carmelite friar gave the world a stirring prayer during his 16th-century life. I have prayed it nightly for years.
Now, I give it to you:
“O Blessed Jesus, grant me stillness of soul in Thee.
“Let Thy mighty calmness reign in me. Rule me O thou King of gentleness, King of peace. Give me control – control over my words, thoughts and actions. From all irritability, want of meekness, want of gentleness, O dear Lord, deliver me.
“By Thine own deep patience give me patience, stillness of soul in Thee. Make me in this, and in all, more and more like Thee. Amen.”
“Stillness of soul in Thee” … What a thought to ponder. What an attitude to bring to moments spent with the Lord, whether that is preparing the heart for Morning or Evening Prayer, perhaps, or for reading Scripture. Or maybe for a holy hour in adoration.
Such an attitude doesn’t always come easily. This prayer has helped bring me into that spiritual orientation.
“Stillness of soul in Thee” … What a way of life to desire. In her inspired moments of understanding just the right gift to give, I think Donna experiences such moments. I’m certain some people allow such moments to lengthen and deepen to the point of it virtually defining them.
I’m thinking especially of my aunt, Betty Blechle, who died Dec. 26 at the age of 82. More than 100 people filled a church one cold morning for her funeral recently. We heard her described several times as a “gentle soul.”
Her sweet-tempered, kind nature likely was a gift from the Lord, one she enhanced with the Eucharist, prayer and devotion to Mary. Through her flowed a tender faith that blessed all of us.
Perhaps you know someone like that — someone who seems to have an openness to the Lord in a way that allows His gifts to flow freely to every life they touch.
“Stillness of soul in Thee.” Pure love.
The best gift of all.
Eisenbath is a parishioner at St. Cletus in St. Charles.